An usual 5 p.m. Oilers appearance on CBC could have Oiler fans busting a move like Kyle much earlier than usual on this sparkling Saturday. The only two guys who could top Kyle Edward’s performance on stage right now are Napolean Dynamite, best dance routine ever, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Saturday night is RNH’s night.
In four HNIC appearances he has five goals and eleven points.The kid loves the national stage, and another virtuoso performance from #93 would give the Oilers their first three-game road winning streak since Nov 29th – Dec 02 of last year.
I expect the Oilers to continue their recent offensive explosion, 20 goals in their last three wins, against the Avs tonight. The Avs have the worst home record in the NHL, 3-8-0, and they’ve scored one goal or less in seven of those games. That’s pathetic. Avs fans must be thrilled watching their team score no goals and constantly lose.
Eric Johnson (-12) and Jan Hejda (-16) sit 716th and 720th respectively in +/-, amongst the 721 skaters that have played an NHL game this year. Only Eric Staal (-17) is worse than Hejda. Remember when many of you thought bringing back Hejda was a good idea after two decent years in Columbus. Since then he’s -36, and not the defensive stalwart that some of you thought he was.
The Oilers are 1-0 in Denver this year after a 3-1 victory on October 28th, and they won that game after beating Washington the night before. Ryan Smyth tallied 1-2-3 that night and Devan Dubnyk stopped 40 of 41 shots, and he’ll get the start tonight.
We could see as many as three lineup changes. Dubnyk is in for sure, Magnus Paajarvi might draw in for Lennart Petrell and Alex Plante has been recalled because Jeff Petry isn’t feeling well. Petry will be a game time decision. I didn’t understand why the Oilers sent Plante down before yesterday’s game. Why not keep him with the team in case of an injury or illness. Now he’s had to fly to OKC and now jump on a likely non-direct flight to Denver. It wasn’t great player management in my opinion.
Renney finally has the luxury of having two scoring lines and I don’t we see much change unless the offense surprisingly dries up.
Smyth – RNH – Eberle
Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky
Gagner – Belanger – Jones
Paajarvi – Lander – Hordichuk
Smid – Gilbert
The other two pairings will depend on Petry’s health. If he plays he’ll stay with Whitney, but if Plante comes in we’ll likely see Whitney – Peckham
Plante – Teubert
A NEW TREND IS BORN
I said if the Oilers won I’d demand that JSBM make another video, and while it cut into their drinking time – they had to stop right after the Oiler game and head back to their mom’s basement to start on this – they have come up with a new video for today.
- When the Oilers return I hope they send Paajarvi to the AHL. Sitting in the pressbox won’t help him, but even when he plays he won’t be getting much icetime. The Oilers special teams are both top-ten, so he won’t be getting on the PK or PP anytime soon, and so realistically he’ll get about 8-11 minutes of EV time a game. The Oilers need to start thinking long term with him. He is the guy who will replace Smyth when he starts to show his age, so let Paajarvi be a top-six forward in OKC. He can play on the PP and the PK. Get lots of confidence and refine his game. Sending him to the minors won’t hurt his development, in fact, I think it will help it more than rotating between the 4th line and the pressbox.
- Shawn Horcoff is playing very well and he’s shocking all of us with back-to-back one-time goals. I like the look of the Triple H line, and yesterday was easily their best game as a trio. Not having to take so many draws and allowing him longer rests on the bench has benefitted the Captain. He hasn’t played this well since he tallied 50 points in 53 games in 2007/2008.
- Ben Eager better have been watching Hordichuk’s performance yesterday. That’s exactly what Eager should be doing, because he’s a bigger and a better skater than Hordichuk. Be aggressive, get in the face of the opposition and hit guys. Eager has more skill and he needs to start using it.
- The Oilers have three guys in the top-18 in scoring. Smyth (9th), RNH (11th) and Eberle (18th). The Hawks have three as well, Toews (8th), Hossa (15th) and Kane (16th). The Leafs (Kessel 1st, and Lupul 3rd), Florida (Versteeg 4th, Fleischmann 14th), Sabres (Vanek 5th, Pominville 12th) and Canucks ( D. Sedin 7th, H. Sedin 17th) have two while the Flyers (Giroux 2nd), Capitals (Backstrom 6th), Kings (Kopitar 10th) and Bruins (Seguin 13th) have one. It has been a long time since the Oilers had some legitimate offensive threats.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers top-two lines will continue to roll. RNH tallies 1-1-2, while Hall adds a pair and the Oilers roll the Avs 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hordichuk will drop the mitts. Even though Staubitz looked like a pretender twice last night, Hordichuk will want to ensure everyone knows he’s still ready and willing to fight. He was excellent as an energy guy yesterday and he’ll continue that tonight.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After tonight’s victory the bars will be full much earlier than usual with half-cut-dreaming-of-playoffs Oiler fans. At about 10:45 at the Pint downtown a random guy will overhear a conversation about today’s GDB and the Napolean Dynamite reference. He’ll instantly come over and wow he can do the dance. A bet will be placed and "random" guy will proceed to the dance floor and embarrass himself. In case you’ve never seen the dance, take a look at one of the best dance routines ever. The end is my favourite part when the music just cuts out. Jon Heder did this in one take.
Nation writer, Jason Strudwick, has scored in his 2nd game in Sweden. No video highlights yet, but after going two years without scoring for the Oilers, I’m sure he was pretty jacked. I’m sure we can expect an interesting write up from him this week.